New York expects 1st delivery of coronavirus vaccine mid-December

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NEW YORK — Months after New York’s first coronavirus case, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the state should receive its first delivery of a vaccine by mid-December.

New York is expected to receive around 170,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine at first.

“We expect, if all safety and efficacy approvals are granted, to receive these doses on December 15,” Cuomo tweeted.

Cuomo said first priority would go to high-risk individuals and front-line workers. There are about 210,000 nursing home residents and workers who will receive early doses of the vaccine.

Healthy adults and children will receive doses in the last phase of the vaccine roll-out.

Novel coronavirus has killed more than 26,000 in New York. More than 655,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Jessica Justman, infectious disease specialist at Columbia University, adds the existing national flu vaccine distribution network will serve the country well.

“On one hand, I’ll say yes, it’s complex,” she said. “They really are intended to have some organization so that it’s not total chaos with everybody trying to get the vaccine in the first week.”

The speed of the distribution is one factor; access to the vaccine and how it will be prioritized for the general population is quite another, particularly in communities of color where COVID-19 infection and mortality rates have been disproportionately high.

New York City Councilman Mark Levine is chair of the health committee.

“This is partly a technical question and also partly a moral question,” he said. “I think we also have a moral obligation to place equity front and center because of the failings in this pandemic.”

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